Metal has done a great job scaring the establishment throughout its existence. With many bands portraying violence through their lyrics to complement heavy, aggressive music, it's not hard to see where people are coming from.

However, a new study from Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, argues that the aggressive imagery synonymous with heavy metal doesn’t lead to violent behavior or a lack of empathy.

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In an interview with BBC News, Macquarie University professor Bill Thompson advocated for metal music fans. In the study, Thompson revealed that the music didn’t desensitize listeners to violence.

“[Death metal] fans are nice people,” Thompson says. “They’re not going to go out and hurt someone.”

To test their theory, 32 metal fans and 48 nonmetal fans were shown violent and nonviolent imagery while listening to “Eaten” by Bloodbath or “Happy” by Pharrell Williams.

The aim of the test was to see how much the participants’ brains engaged with violent scenes in comparison to nonviolent ones, as explained by lead researcher Yanan Sun. Then, researchers compared how the music affected the engagement.

“It’s called binocular rivalry,” Sun says. “The basis of this psychological test is that when most people are presented with a neutral image to one eye and a violent image to the other, they see the violent image more.”

Thompson says that the findings should be welcome news for parents and religious institutions. Metal has been a frequent target for some religious groups, most recently with Metal In The Mountains Festival in West Virginia being threatened by “bible thumpers.”

That said, Bloodbath say they were open to their music being used in the experiment. In fact, lead vocalist Nick Holmes actually agreed with the results.

“We don’t have any issue with it,” Holmes told BBC News. “The lyrics are harmless fun, as the study proved.”

Holmes echoed Thompson’s sentiment, praising the character of metal fans.

“The majority of death-metal fans are intelligent, thoughtful people who just have a passion for the music,” he says. “It’s the equivalent of people who are obsessed with horror movies or even battle re-enactments.”

What do you think of the new study? Sound off in the comments below!

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